green Walking Stickbrown Walking StickWalking Stick artbug aquariumunderside of bug cage lid

The Bugs.

The Adam and Eve of my bug collection were a couple that I purchased from an entrepreneurial ten year old at a community rummage sale.  I had just read Robert Fulghum’s advice to try to purchase what children sell, in order to encourage their enthusiasm in participating in commerce.  This was an exceedingly glum little boy, and now I know why. 

Walking Sticks are unusual in that they reproduce without actually mating.  They just drop their tiny round eggs all over the floor of their cage, and about every three or four months, hundreds of ant-like baby walking sticks are crawling everywhere, sometimes munching on the thread-thin legs of their adult parents. 

I was completely unaware of the bug’s marvelous reproductive capacity as I mourned the death of my first female, Twiggy.  It was a dramatic death, with Twiggy draping her angular, tube like body backwards over a branch, recovering for a few hours, and then swooning again.  Days later, she collapsed for the last time.  I searched in vain for a replacement.  

A month later, I was finally able to face the sad task of cleaning out the glass bowl that had housed the little bug family.  Imagine my delight at finding many little Twiggys crawling among the desiccated Ivy. 

I am still fascinated by these gentle vegetarians.  However, that delight is now tempered by the dreadful responsibility of having to cast hundreds of them out of their cage every few months, knowing that they will be eaten by predators or freeze to death during the night. 

I try to save as many as I can, especially the elders who deserve to live out their short lifespan in comfort.  They live in a large aquarium now, with more room to hang form the screened lid as they shed their skin. 

Caring for the bugs in this way for over eighteen years, I think I now understand the sadness that God must feel when controlling the necessary tragedy of death.  That is a lot to learn from an insect.

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